When should I first take my child to the dentist?
You should take your child to the dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his or her first birthday, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Why so early? National studies have shown that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. More than 1 in 4 children in the United States suffers from tooth decay by the age of 5.
HOW OFTEN WILL MY CHILD NEED TO SEE THE DENTIST?
Most experts recommend a dental visit every six months as long as there are no major problems. During a check-up, your dentist will examine your child’s teeth and gums to look for any problems and make sure your child’s teeth are developing properly. He or she will also look for any signs of decay and may order X-rays, as these are often the only way to identify tiny cavities in primary (baby) teeth. A dental visit will also include a cleaning and fluoride varnish treatment.
DOES MY CHILD NEED FLUORIDE VARNISH TREATMENT?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all infants and children receive fluoride varnish treatment starting at the age of primary tooth eruption. Once teeth are present, fluoride varnish may be applied every 3 to 6 months in the primary care or dental office. Fluoride is important because it adds extra protection to the enamel of your child’s teeth. During the procedure, your dentist will apply the varnish to your child’s teeth with a small brush.
DOES MY CHILD NEED SEALANTS?
Dental sealants – which are a thin plastic coating painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – can prevent tooth decay and act as a barrier to prevent cavities. All children are candidates for sealants due to the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the molars. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, most cavities in children occur in places that sealants could have protected.